Martin Sheen Clarifies his Position on Zero Dark Thirty, Too Late?

Martin Sheen had been one of the voices protesting Zero Dark Thirty, urging Academy members not to vote for the film. After Bigelow was snubbed by the Academy as a result; the most critically acclaimed film was a standout this year specifically for the directing, and yet there was no party for Bigelow as there was for Ben Affleck. At any rate, the reversal:

On consideration, and widespread reports to the contrary notwithstanding, Martin Sheen said he did not believe that Oscar voters or anyone else should shun “Zero Dark Thirty.”

But speaking by telephone Wednesday, Mr. Sheen said that through his own mistake, the actors David Clennon and Ed Asner had included Mr. Sheen in their opposition to what they saw as the film’s tolerance of torture. “It’s my own fault,” said Mr. Sheen, who explained that he had agreed to a statement about the film without fully understanding that it would condemn the movie, rather than simply condemning torture.

Kathryn Bigelow, who directed “Zero Dark Thirty,” and Mark Boal, who wrote it, became aware of Mr. Sheen’s admiration for the movie when he spoke with them recently by telephone, after receiving a handwritten letter from him at the Golden Globes ceremony on Jan. 13, Mr. Boal said on Tuesday.

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45 Comments

  1. Gerold
    January 30, 2013

    Too late now. He knows better. Seems like a dick move to me.

  2. Aragorn
    January 30, 2013

    If anything, this might help Jessica Chastain the most. but again only if.

    We dont know how much his initial thoughts hurt ZDT to start with. I am not sure there are enough people to take Martin Sheen seriously. Since when he is an opinion leader??? But again you never know.

  3. steve50
    January 30, 2013

    What an idiot. Just shut up, Mr Sheen

  4. Bryce Forestieri
    January 30, 2013

    Saigon, shit

  5. Zach
    January 30, 2013

    Senseless. I know he played the President, but really, wasn’t Apocalypse Now controversial too?

  6. steve50
    January 30, 2013

    Yes, Apocalypse Now did cause a stir but it didn’t have the hate cheerleaders like these guys. Sheen was in it, so he wasn’t gonna say nuthin’ nasty and Mister Grant was busy on the TEEVEE being all gruff and lovable. Who knows where Clennon was – probably some college dorm trying to extract the bong from his ass.

    What these guys did to this film was so irritating.

  7. phantom
    January 30, 2013

    I agree with Aragorn, if Argo can win Best Picture to make up for the Affleck-snub, I think it’s a viable theory that Jessica Chastain can win Best Actress to make up for the Bigelow-snub. As strange as this may sound, it could all come down to the BAFTA winner.

    - if Lawrence wins, she WILL win the Oscar (no close runner-up)
    - if Chastain wins, she COULD win the Oscar (head-to-head with Lawrence)
    - if Riva wins, she MIGHT win the Oscar (three-way race with Chastain in 3rd place)

    For what it’s worth, BAFTA people LOVED Zero Dark Thirty and even Amour, they weren’t that sweet on Silver Linings Playbook, also the only one of the three who NEEDS this to stay a viable threat, is the great Emmanuelle Riva, but on the upside I firmly believe that IF she wins BAFTA, she WILL win the Oscar, too, SAG be damned ! She is the first acting contender since I started watching the Oscars (1995, age 7) who I can EASILY see take this WITHOUT the crucial SAG nomination.

  8. Danemychal
    January 30, 2013

    Phantom – I agree a vote for Chastain could be seen as a vote for Bigelow (since I would say its BP chances are unfortunately dead). Chastain has compared Maya to Bigelow more than once in acceptance speeches. It would be a good healing exercise for the film’s reputation to be redeemed by AMPAS. And it is a worthy performance, despite what some of you lunkheads think. Also: even though Boal’s The Hurt Locker script absolutely ROBBED Tarantino’s script of the Oscar for Inglorious Bastards, I wholeheartedly DO NOT believe in stupid makeup Oscars and I believe that Boal rightly deserves to beat Tarantino this year. Those 2 Oscars for ZDT would sit very well with me.

  9. PaulinJapan
    January 30, 2013

    I agree that BAFTA could be crucial. I can’t see Lawrence winning, and Chastain needs the bump if she is to have a chance. I think she’ll get it over Riva, and the Best Actress race will go down to the wire.

  10. January 30, 2013

    That’s really foul.

  11. EaglesFan45
    January 30, 2013

    I think Zero Dark Thirty will win Best Sound Editing. I’m a bit less optimistic about Chastain’s chances with Weinstein on the opposing team.

  12. Jason B
    January 30, 2013

    Perhaps Pres. Barlett was running for a third term and though he had to distance himself from the film?

    @ PaulinJapan – I’m really hoping Riva will emerge as the frontrunner. I admire Chastain; and Lawrence is still young with a long career ahead (hopefully less revolved around X-Men and Hunger Games). But Riva delivered a performance that was exceptionally brave and powerful and deserves a win on behalf of her and co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant.

  13. PaulinJapan
    January 30, 2013

    I wouldn’t have a problem if Riva won…. though she’ll have plenty of other chances in future….. ahem…

    Winning on her 86th birthday would make a nice narrative, but I can’t imagine many voters having that on their minds as they’re checking boxes.

  14. PJ
    January 30, 2013

    Meh. Damage is done. Chastain lost SAG. Bigelow got snubbed. ZD30 is a complete nonfactor in the race.

  15. Jason B
    January 30, 2013

    @PaulinJapan – there aren’t too many roles out there for older actors, especially not as main characters. Even a similar film, Away from Her, utilized younger actors.

  16. Jerry
    January 30, 2013

    How do you end up signing a petition you didn’t read? I mean they all have minions that triple check this kind of stuff. If he wanted to protest torture he could have signed the petitions bring passed out years ago or written a letter to his congressman. It doesn’t really matter. The protest from 3-4 actors wasn’t what killed ZD30. That came at the very end after it was already dead. Maybe Sheen’s support now could make a difference. Hard to say but I’m pretty sure it’s now down to Argo and Lincoln. Chastain lost SAG and won’t win BAFTA (that’s Riva’s) so her chances are dead too.

  17. Winston
    January 30, 2013

    Martin Sheen’s opinion is irrelevant. Journalists were the ones who first brought the issues with ZDT into focus. The makers of ZDT received remarkable access and created what they themselves described as a first hand journalistic account. But if you do that you are going to be held that standard.
    ZDT received a massive awards push based on its supposed historical accuracy in depicting an important event.
    The bird has flown.

  18. rufussondheim
    January 30, 2013

    Love the Chlotrudis Awards! What an interesting group of films!

  19. rufussondheim
    January 30, 2013

    “Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. Whether those techniques were the ‘only timele and effective way’ to obtain such information is a matter of debate and cannot be established definitively.” – Leon Panetta

  20. Winston
    January 30, 2013

    I was looking at the bafta awards. They are very spotty in predicting the academy awards.

  21. Tony
    January 30, 2013

    I love it when Hollywood liberals fight amongst themselves.

  22. Winston
    January 30, 2013

    To paraphrase Mean Girls, enough with ZDT. It’s never going to happen. All conspiracies aside, ZDT was made in a very unique way with all sorts of insider access. It was presented as journalism and was hailed on its supposed journalistic merits despite later backtracking. Once source after source began to question ZDT’s interpretation and depiction of events (and not just on the torture issue) it immediately became irresponsible to vote for it. The film was created in a headlong manner, rushing in to get insider acounts before events could be properly weighed and assessed and then rushing to present those alleged accounts on film to be the first to reap the benefits. It’s actually deeply satisfying that this attempted exploitation unraveled.

    Incidentally I looked it up and found out that Jennifer Lawrence is the youngest film best actor/actress winner in SAG history and the second youngest film actor/actress winner in any category. (Kate Winslett won a supporting actress award at 21 for Sense and Sensibility).

  23. Watermelons
    January 31, 2013

    “Kate Winslett won a supporting actress award at 21 for Sense and Sensibility”

    Thank you for bringing this up!!

  24. Sammy
    January 31, 2013

    Riva’s chances are really up to the BAFTA win. If she wins, then she will emerge as the favorite. Same applies to Haneke to some degree. If he wins BAFTA then he will have the chance to leapfrog Spielberg for BD – under the condition Spielberg loses DGA.

  25. Sammy
    January 31, 2013

    I do not agree with Martin Sheen. ZDT or any other film is an artistic endeavour and we all look within that perspective.

  26. Dominik
    January 31, 2013

    “After Bigelow was snubbed by the Academy as a result”

    I think you are overestimating the influence of Martin Sheen (or his anti ZDT-combatants) a little bit… ;-)

    If I were an Academy member and an admirer of Zero Dark Thirty, would I give a shit about what other attention seeking member would declare in public? Nope.

  27. Kane
    January 31, 2013

    Sasha, Ben is getting the party now, but Bigelow got hers 3 years ago. Love Argo a whole lot, but ZD30 is an echelon higher.

  28. rufussondheim
    January 31, 2013

    Winston you say, “Once source after source began to question ZDT’s interpretation and depiction of events” – I’m wondering precisely what sources you are referring to?

    It seems you skipped over this…

    “Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. Whether those techniques were the ‘only timele and effective way’ to obtain such information is a matter of debate and cannot be established definitively.” – Leon Panetta

    Lean Panetta was in the fucking movie!

    C’mon people, you ZDT bashers need to do better. How about adhering to a sense of journalistic integrity you feel ZDT lacks.

    When really, the people here that are the most slapdash and irresponsible are the people criticizing ZDT willy-nilly with no facts of their own (which is just about everybody criticizing ZDT by the way.)

    What a pathetic display of humanity.

  29. Thomas
    January 31, 2013

    The BAFTA is not nearly as good as a predicter of who will the Oscar like the Golden Globes that seems to be a fifty/fifty split every year and the SAG awards that gets it 50%-75% of the time. Personally, Riva will WIN at the BAFTA’s. She is from their side of the pond and has a very impressive career and with no wins at this ceremony. As for the other awards I find a split will occur with Lincoln and Argo coming out with the most trophies and BAFTA following suit with all the other award shows giving Affleck Best Director.

  30. Jason B
    January 31, 2013

    Well, that was odd, my comment seemed to disappear and it wasn’t an abusive comment, so…

    @ rufussondheim – You already know my opinion of ZDT from the other post (which you didn’t respond to the last one), but I agree with you here regarding the attacks on the journalistic aspects of the film.

    I do think it’s unnecessary to have that disclaimer at the beginning, but it was a choice to cast the film in that light. But with the heightened realism of the film and the filmmakers’ desire to dramatize certain events and characters, it will inevitably get some facts either wrong or tweaked for cinematic purposes.

    Further, many facts were classified than de-classified and denied and then admitted, there is a bubble of rumors (I at one point read the porn stash was encrypted with Al Qaeda info, but haven’t seen verification of that since). Any coordination with the government as a source is likely to be seen as bias for many reasons, including national security.

    So, I have many issues with ZD30, but journalistic integrity isn’t one.

  31. Robert
    January 31, 2013

    BAFTA will go to either Chastain or Riva, whose films BAFTA loved based on the nominations. Curiously, no actress has even won BAFTA within the past decade without having at least been nominated by SAG or the Globes but Riva’s case may be different. They just did not seem that impressed with Silver Linings Playbook. Chastain’s movie is the one of the moment, however, and I see her as the slight frontrunner there, with Riva right behind her

  32. Winston
    January 31, 2013

    @rufussondheim-Oh I don’t know. Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former Director of the CIA. Several very reputable journalists. So no one in particular.
    The Baftas are not very predictive of the Academy Awards.

  33. Winston
    January 31, 2013

    Actually it’s worse then I thought. Turns out the acting CIA Director was so upset about the films departure from reality that he sent an internal letter to CIA employees to enumerate his complants. Here is the article:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-complains-about-depictions-in-osama-bin-laden-movie-zero-dark-thirty/2012/12/21/a73a925a-4bc5-11e2-a6a6-aabac85e8036_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines

    I make no attempts to hide the fact that my inner bs detector shot into the stratosphere the second this film appeared. The story was just too perfect, too awards ready. And the way it was made presented too great an opportunity for “artistic license.” The filmmakers rushed in to spin a tale before the facts had even been carefully reviewed. It was egregious. Glad to see this film fall apart.

  34. Nr27
    January 31, 2013

    @Winston: So you think the CIA (or any other intelligence agency in the world) always tells the truth in the public? *lol*

  35. joeyhegele
    January 31, 2013

    Before Martin Sheen gave this clarification, I was wondering how he could be attacking Zero Dark Thirty for depicting torture but remain silent on Homeland.

    The entire concept of that TV show is that torture is effective in turning patriotic soldiers into sleeper terrorists who are willing to kill the vice-president and many other Americans. When the CIA catches him, one of the agents stabs a knife through his hand! In response to this torture, which is more extreme than anything Zero Dark Thirty depicts, the character gives the CIA the information they were looking for.

    Based on the ridiculous attacks against Bigelow, Homeland is just as guilty of “endorsing” torture as her film is. Yet Martin Sheen did not attack that show when it won Best Drama and several other awards at the Emmys. Sheen is a voting member of the Emmys, yet he did not go public and say people should boycott Homeland.

    I am glad he was willing to admit he was wrong about Zero Dark Thirty, but the damage is already done. Much like Ernest Borgnine and Tony Curtis attacking Brokeback Mountain, Ed Asner and David Clennon should be ashamed of their misinformed and vicious campaign against Bigelow and her amazing film.

  36. rufussondheim
    January 31, 2013

    Winston, were any of these people “sources” for the movie?

    Dianne Feinstein is on the Senate Committee to which you refer. But she has voters to please, campaign contributers to please and she has an image she needs and wants to protect. Her “opinion” of what happened is based on the available intelligence. Granted she’s seen a lot of it and we have not, but I have no reason to believe her over other people. Personally, I think she’s pretty unreliable, she’s a politician.

    The former director of the CIA – which one is that? Names please. It’s hard for me to counter a non-specific person.

    Yes, I agree that several reputable journalists have disagreed with aspects of the film. One of these is Jane Mayer, someone I feel in love with when she (and Jill Abramson) wrote a thoroughly researched and detailed history of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings. It’s a phenomenal book. And I trust her.

    But what did she say? Here’s her opening arguement that appeared on the PBS Newshour (a news program I wholeheartedly trust)

    “And, instead, what it does is it distorts the history, I felt, by leaving out the complete moral and ethical and political context in which this torture program took place. There were fights from start to finish about whether torture was something appropriate for the United States to get involved in. It’s not just whether it worked, but it was whether we could do better and whether it was illegal and wrong.”

    IN other words, Jane Mayer doesn’t have a problem with the images shown, she has a problem that the film didn’t give the proper context. To me that’s a whole different ball of wax. She doesn’t contradict any of the actual depictions. Interesting…

    Now I’ve read reports of others saying that certain aspects are simplified, that there are oversight people present at these interrogations and so forth. But, really, would you criticize the film for that? For not having a table with three people sitting there observing? If that were shown all it would do is confuse people and it’s certainly not integral to the story.

    Winston, you’ve caught yourself in a journalistic abyss of ill repute.

    And now let’s go to your link which discusses the words of Michael Morell. It should be noted that he’s just the acting director of the CIA, and if he’s hoping to get the permanent appointment then he better adhere to the Obama line or he won’t get that appointment. So of course he could never say publicly that torture was effective. (Of course, I don’t think the film says torture was effective or ineffective, just that it occurred which is not up for debate.)

    The other Morell objection is that it reduces the work of hundreds to a few individuals. Big deal. I assumed that. As would every thinking person who watched the person. After all there were rooms and rooms of people at various points throughout the film. I didn’t assume they were there serving pizza and coke. Oh, and this Morell gey didn’t get the nomination.

    And again, Winston, I point out this quote from Leon Panetta, who was actually a central figure in the film…

    “Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. Whether those techniques were the ‘only timele and effective way’ to obtain such information is a matter of debate and cannot be established definitively.” – Leon Panetta

    This is a quote you’ve conveniently ignored. And it squares perfectly with what was shown in the film.

  37. mikeyone
    January 31, 2013

    martin sheen = asshole .

  38. Winston
    January 31, 2013

    Behold the great conspiracy to tear down ZDT.
    I’ve stated my piece. Even the most ardent defenders of this film have to acknowledge that the way the film got made was unorthodox. When you rush in headlong manner to bring historical events to the screen before the fog of events has even lifted you leave yourself wide open.
    Think of the film Bonnie & Clyde. It was depicting events decades old. But it depicted two despicable individuals as attractive anti-heroes. That downside only emerged years later but it completely alters how that film deserves to be perceived. That is the potential downside of purporting to tell a “true” story. ZDT was rushed to the screen and its defenders are in a mad dash to honor it before the clock runs out.

  39. rufussondheim
    January 31, 2013

    Yes, you stated your piece Winston, and you did a shitty job of it. To not even address what I stated is absurd. I’ll remember to ignore you in the future.

  40. Jason B
    January 31, 2013

    @ rufussondheim – Chill out. While I don’t agree with Winston’s logic, just because he ignores some of your points doesn’t make it absurd. You ignored what I wrote, so don’t hold yourself to some high standard. Remember, it’s just the internet, some people are just killing time at their jobs.

  41. rufussondheim
    January 31, 2013

    Jason, I didn’t ignore your posts, I read them, processed them and responded. And then you did the same. I thought you mostly restated your claims and didn’t add anything new. I respect your opinion, and since I hate the saying “I guess we agree to disagree” and all things similar.

    And conversations move from thread to thread, I knew and understood what you said, you’re a smart guy, I respect that. But Winston, he’s willfully ignorant. And I called him for it.

  42. Winston
    February 1, 2013

    @rufussondheim-I didn’t respond to you because you didn’t say anything worth responding to. Do you hear yourself? The very substantial critics of this film all have an agenda? The Senate, both Democrat and Republican? Both former and current Directors of the CIA? Journalists researching the same events? There is supporting a movie and then there is self-delusion. To state it plainly, the makers of ZDT were irresponsible. Please by all means point to another film purporting to depict important historical events that was so madly rushed to the screen, that promoted its supposed first hand journalistic merits, that preceeded even the most basic scholarly or journalistic accounts of the relevant events? You can’t. And with good reason.
    Anyway take the last word by all means. It won’t offend me. Nor will it matter. ZDT’s fate is sealed.

  43. Sam
    February 1, 2013

    Oh come one…we all know Harvey Weinstein orchestrated the attack on ZDT. It’s ridiculous. The movie is far superior to Argo and SLP. Lawrence and Wallis should be the dark horses…Lawrence as front runner for Best Actress just shows us how far great roles for women have sunk.

    Give me a break Hollywood.

  44. rufussondheim
    February 1, 2013

    I’ve responded to each of your points, Winston, asking for more information, more evidence, or I’ve refuted what you’ve had to say. And then you just repeat yourself.

    You’re a dishonest halfwit.

    And you know it.

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